Rajya Sabha passes chit fund Bill, discusses ban on e-cigarette

November 28, 2019 09:08 pm | Updated 09:08 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said the Indian Council of Medical Research in May recommended a ban on e-cigarettes./ Photo for representation

Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said the Indian Council of Medical Research in May recommended a ban on e-cigarettes./ Photo for representation

Parliament on Thursday passed the Chit Funds (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which increases the limit of chit funds to ₹3 lakh for those run by up to four individuals and ₹18 lakh for those operated by more than four partners.

The Rajya Sabha passed it by a voice vote. The Lok Sabha cleared it on November 20.

Minister of State for Finance and Corporate Affairs Anurag Thakur said the Bill had increased the amount as well as commissions for foremen to account for inflation. He said the Bill had also introduced new terms to differentiate legal chit funds from ponzi schemes. They could now be called fraternity funds and rotating savings and credit institutions.

E-cigarette Bill introduced

A piece of legislation to ban e-cigarettes was introduced by Health Minister Harsh Vardhan in the Rajya Sabha. The Prohibition of Electronic Cigarettes (Production, Manufacture, Import, Export, Transport, Sale, Distribution, Storage, and Advertisement) Bill, 2019, was passed by the Lok Sabha on Wednesday.

The Minister said the government had issued an ordinance banning e-cigarettes on September 18 after reports of an increasing number of lung diseases caused by the use of e-cigarettes in the United States and a report on an international e-cigarette company, Juul, launching in India in December. He said the Indian Council of Medical Research in May recommended a ban on e-cigarettes, and 16 States and Union territories had already done so. He said the use of e-cigarettes could lead to heart attacks, strokes and lung diseases. He said India was slow to act against tobacco, but the government had now taken a “pre-emptive” approach in order to prevent the increase in the use of e-cigarettes.

However, Congress member M.V. Rajeev Gowda asked the government to look at regulations rather than banning e-cigarettes, saying they were less harmful than cigarettes and could help smokers quit the habit. He suggested that the government regulate the sale by making them available at pharmacies on prescription.

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